We started a new year in a new place, and a small town…me and my little girl; when I say little…11 years old :). She caught the bus into town, early in the morning and I’d drive 40 minutes south to catch the train, to travel another hour or so to University. I was doing my major papers by this time, and I’d switched my focus to Criminology. I also started a Security Course…being the ever practical me, Criminology in theory was all good…but how was that going to out work in the real world…and there was no way I was joining the police force…the poupou , along with most other government departments, weren’t my favourite types of establishments; and I wanted some practicality to what we were learning in Crim. However, there was no cross over really…Crim theory is just that. How it translates into real world is…well, unrealistic, I think. As far as research goes, its awesome. But research on its own is pointless if it doesn’t translate into the ‘doing’.
My little girl enjoyed her school…still doing the bilingual thing…and culturally she thrived in this type of environment. I was kind of dreading taking her out and putting her into a mainstream school, which I knew I needed to by the time she hit college. Because she wasn’t a fluent Maori speaker, and neither was I, she was unable to be integrated into an all Maori school. Those rules are changing slightly now…but for then, it sucked ass. But we did the best with what we had. I had decided to move her into a high decile school…not sure if that was a smart thing in hindsight…but at the time, the reasoning was that she had her culture down packed; her language was good and she would continue that in college…and then she could learn the Pakeha ways. I thought she needed too because this country is predominantly run as a Pakeha nation. They like to believe it is multi or bi cultural…but its not. It has a token element…but we are definitely not partners in the running of this nation, as was stipulated in the Treaty. So I thought it was important for her to learn…how to be Pakeha too. Or how to survive it anyway.
My little girl could quote the treaty in parts; I had made sure I taught them as much as I was learning. She knew her Articles and the essence of each. She came home one day, and a girl on the bus had said all the Maori should go back to where they came from, that this country was theirs (European). Apparently this midget of mine, stood up in the bus aisle and let rip the history of our nation…when Maori had migrated here, when Pakeha had come and what diseases they brought with them, annihilating over 2/3rds of our population…the articles of the treaty and that it was in fact her that should be going back to where she came from. Apparently all the Maori kids on the bus were grinning from ear to ear, hearing this half pint spit her history without a hiccup. Needless to say, her opponent didn’t have anything else to say other than…shut up…not the best come back.
I found studying our history had made me seething-ly angry. It’s hard to figure out what to do with that kind of anger…so I started painting. And I painted and painted. And the thing I discovered with art…is that its not only cathartic, but that its received better by the viewing public, than if I had delivered a speech on equality and righting the cultural genocide that Maori had endured. Instead peeps looked, tilted their heads a little…stood back, looked again, tilted the other way…hmmm ed…then would usually say…beautiful 🙂
I met my current partner during this year. It’s not often you feel…well I feel…a connection with someone almost immediately. But I did with him. That’s not to say we haven’t had conflict…but we’ve always gone back to when we met…just to see and feel, if that connection is still there. So far, it has been.
One devastating event occurred this year…that changed the face of our family…my Nan died.
Nan was old school…obviously. And she had a ton of flaws…but who doesn’t…I can say that now, that she’s gone…but there was a long time when I just didn’t get her. Now…I get her…and I wish I had showed her I loved her more, when she was here. But I guess, she knows now.
Nan had the most beautiful flower garden…it was the talk and admiration of the whole town :). She taught herself how to do flower arranging and she’d volunteer her services for virtually anyone who needed flowers to be done. She also taught herself how to do hairdressing and set up a salon at the back of their house and she’d see to the community’s hair needs. Quite the entrepreneur my Nan.
But that was the era too. Post World War 2…lived through the Depression…and just got on with shit. They were a hard old bunch. Their wounds seeped in a different way than ours presently do.
Her and Grandad married after the war and went on to have 3 living children. She carried 6 times though, I think.
Nan just had the most beautiful way about her…caring…empathetic…intuitive. She’d pat your hand as you spoke about what was ailing you…then she’d come up with some smart solution…or quote…followed by the cup of tea that ‘fixes everything’ and a piece of sponge cake.
Nan endured a pretty horrendous life of suffering…rape, neglect, incest, abandonment…and she worked hard…found solutions…ended up depressed, medicated, shock treatment…she worked hard…found solutions…watched us all make stupendous mistakes…cried, grieved, cried some more…worked hard…found solutions. She was, is, a truly beautiful soul.
And when she died…well…that era…it cracked. Nan and Grandad were, always there. Always the place to go…to sleep…to be heard…cuddled. For me it was some type of security. Sure there was other bad memories that came with their place…but I loved the 5am start…you’d hear Nan’s vacuum cleaner doing the rounds at half five and by the time we got up…8ish…the washing had been done, hung out and was on its way in 🙂 There was 1030am cup of tea and biscuit time, 12 noon lunch…on the dot. 330 afternoon tea time…5pm bath time, dinner time and then the news. You could set your watch to that routine…and I loved that.
When she died, Grandad carried on with that routine. I get now that he was grieving in his own way…but it seemed cold and callous. We weren’t allowed to take her home…to her bed…to her cat…so we stayed at the funeral home with her.
Where they were living at the time, the funeral home there, was used to Maori practice that sometimes doesn’t quite fit with Pakeha practice, so they were used to having people stay with the family at the funeral home. It had a kitchen and lounge room, similar to a Marae.
Someone stayed with Nan all the time.
And we cried…grieved…told storied…sang abit…grieved.
She’s still hugely missed. She was such, is such, an integral part of all our lives one way or another.
My big girl lived with her for a while, and while I had issues at the time with her not being with me…now, I can see that my girl is better…richer…for having lived with my Nan. She shares her caring and compassionate streak.
It was a heart-breaking time…and I remember the moment she left this earth. I was on my way back from University on the train. I didn’t usually fall asleep. This night I did. And when I was waking…I felt her go. Then my phone rang…and I didn’t answer. I knew she’d gone, but I hoped I was wrong.
When I got home, I rang my mother…who said Nan had been flown to the hospital in another town…and mid flight, she had died. Same time as I woke up.
What was cool…was Nan loved the thought of flying but had never been on a plane…it was her final ride 🙂